Rachel Kerr



My research interests converge on the broad themes of sustainable agriculture, food security, health, nutrition and social inequalities, with a primary focus in southern Africa.

Research Focus

I have four major areas of research: 1) historical, political and social roots of the food system in northern Malawi; 2) sustainable agriculture, food security and social processes in rural Africa; 3) social relations linked to health and nutritional outcomes and 4) local knowledge and climate change adaptation. My general approach to food systems has been holistic, interdisciplinary and collaborative, drawing from both the natural and social sciences, including collaborations with those working in agricultural and nutritional science, public health and ecology. Most of my research is also applied, community-based and participatory, involving local organizations and community members addressing ways to develop a sustainable food system. In my work, I pay attention to different scales of a problem, as well as the historical roots that shape contemporary realities. I also study discursive framings of food issues, using post-structural and feminist theory as well as political ecology to explore agricultural practices and policies in southern Africa. Concepts drawn from agroecology, public health and international nutrition have also been important in my research. My long-term collaborative research project has shown evidence-based improvement in nutrition, food security and soil management from agro-ecological practices in Malawi and Tanzania.


Journal Publications